A U.S. court in Washington, D.C., has ruled that artworks created solely by artificial intelligence, devoid of any human contribution, cannot be granted copyright protection under U.S. law. The verdict was delivered on Friday by the U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell. This judgment is going to have significant implications for the future of art and intellectual property rights in the presence of AI.
Computer scientist Stephen Thaler had applied for copyright protection to “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” a piece of visual art created by AI in 2018. The US Copyright Office declined his application last year. Now, the court ruling has affirmed the stance of the Copyright Office, maintaining that only works authored by humans are eligible for copyright protection.
Thaler’s attorney, Ryan Abbott, expressed strong disagreement with the court’s ruling and confirmed plans to appeal the decision.
The presence of AI-generated art raises many questions about the nature of authorship and ownership in the digital age. Nevertheless, the Copyright Office’s stance on AI-generated artworks has been consistent.
In fact Thaler’s applications for patents for innovations made by his autonomous system known as DABUS (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience) had also been rejected by the US patent office.
Judge Howell’s ruling emphasizes that human authorship is a fundamental requirement of copyright protection. It is grounded in centuries of established legal understanding.
As the worlds of technology and creativity converge, this decision is going to be an important precedent. These legal debates are poised to intensify in the future and Judge Howell acknowledges the complexities of copyright law in the face of rapidly advancing technologies. However, the bedrock principle remains the same. Human involvement is essential for art to be covered by copyright law.